One of the many benefits of any group or club is the opportunity for its members to share common interests. They learn from one another, share ideas and suggestions, and cultivate new friendships. The Sask Valley Riding Club was formed in 1996 with these goals in mind.
“A lot of people have horses out on farms and are pretty much riding by themselves. When you want to get more specialized, such as reining, cutting or barrel racing, or you just want to have more fun with it, you need to get out and about with others,” says Giselle Malyk, current president of the club.
“For us, there’s also a strong interest in contributing to the community by supporting causes or charities that are of special interest to our members. These include the Kinsmen Telemiracle Foundation, the Equine Health Research Fund, the Children’s Hospital and Breast Cancer Research. One of our members, Ray Kneeland, who owns the OK Corral near Martensville, raises thousands of dollars for Telemiracle every year,” she adds.
The Sask Valley Riding Club is open to members of all ages and both English and Western riders are welcome to join. Events such as gymkhanas are held in May, June, July and August, and there is a poker rally usually in May and later in the summer. Another annual event is the Telemiracle Pony Express 8-Day Ride, held the last week in July. Members also participate in parades.
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“Our trail rides are mostly one-day adventures. We look for interesting places to ride and have found there are many fun areas around the city that you can go to and return in a day. The farthest out we’ve been recently is the Prince Albert area. Some of the smaller groups might head off a bit farther to places such as the Cypress Hills, but mostly we tend to do day excursions,” says Malyk.
The rides are sanctioned so everyone is insured through the Saskatchewan Horse Federation in case of injuries, and the club has guidelines that encourage younger people to wear helmets.
The gymkhanas, often held at the OK Corral north of Saskatoon, are organized with fun in mind. “From barrel racing, to pole bending to reining, they’re just games and everybody laughs at themselves trying to get their horses to co-operate,” says Malyk.
As well as monthly meetings, the club co-ordinates riding clinics for its members. “We bring in trainers from different disciplines. The club pays for some of the cost with the membership fees and the fundraising events we do. This gives our members the opportunity to get the expertise they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford,” she says.
Members of the club enjoy spending time with and looking out for each other, and providing advice and tips about horse health and care. Also, an extensive library with videos and books is available to members.
“We also have a Facebook page where people can share ideas. It’s really a community of information at your fingertips,” Malyk says.
Malyk grew up on a farm and has been riding since the age of 10, participating in English and Western riding events. “Now I just ride for pleasure. When you have it in your blood, it’s just something you’ve got to do. It feeds the soul.”
The goals of the Sask Valley Riding Club are simple: “We want to help each other, help our horses and benefit the community. In short, promote riding in a family atmosphere. I feel ours is an important organization to keep going. People love it,” Malyk says.
For more information go to Sask Valley Riding Club website.